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from Breakingviews:

Ten ways to tell whether Abenomics is working

By Andy Mukherjee

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Shinzo Abe wants to stem the rot - and quickly. Less than four months into the job, Japan’s new prime minister has launched one of the world’s most ambitious programmes of fiscal and monetary easing. His goal is to defeat the scourge of deflation that has corroded the once-dynamic economy, shrinking it by 9 percent in 15 years. But is Abenomics having its desired effect?

Entrenched deflation won’t overnight give way to inflation. There is much else that needs to happen first: Wages and consumption will have to rise, demand for credit and new investments will have to grow, and expectations of future price gains will need to harden. Equity and bond investors will need to keep their faith.

Breakingviews has combined 10 such indicators of “animal spirits” into a composite Abenomics Index, which will be updated monthly. Users can customize the index by removing components they believe to be less useful.

from The Great Debate:

Casting doubt on Japan’s new economic experiment

Almost exactly a decade ago, Ben Bernanke visited Tokyo as a member of the Federal Reserve Board – he was not yet the powerful Fed chairman – and gave some shocking advice to his Japanese counterparts. Surveying the country’s abysmal record of deflation, Bernanke recommended that the Bank of Japan set an explicit inflation target and embark on a massive program of buying government debt to help achieve that goal.

It took a perplexingly long time for the advice to be heeded. Last week, Japan’s new central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, announced that he hoped to achieve 2 percent inflation within two years from the current deflation of -0.70 percent.

from MacroScope:

Yellen-san supportive of BOJ’s aggressive easing

For all the talk about clear communications at the Federal Reserve, central bank Vice Chair Janet Yellen's speech to the Society of American Business and Economics Writers ran a rather long-winded 16 pages.

However, while Fed board members generally do not take questions from reporters, there was a scheduled audience Q&A which, at this particular event, meant it was effectively a press briefing.

from Global Investing:

Less yen for carry this time

The Bank of Japan unleashed its full firepower this week, pushing the yen to 3-1/2 year lows of 97 per dollar.  Year-to-date, the currency is down 11 percent to the dollar. But those hoping for a return to the carry trade boom of yesteryear may wait in vain.

The weaker yen of pre-crisis years was a strong plus for emerging assets, especially for high-yield currencies. Japanese savers chased rising overseas currencies by buying high-yield foreign bonds and as foreigners sold used cheap yen funding for interest rate carry trades. But there's been little sign of a repeat of that behaviour as the yen has fallen sharply again recently .

from Breakingviews:

Japanese economy needs nuclear second chance

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Japan needs to give nuclear energy a second chance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of weakening the yen will make electricity even pricier in a country that imported over 80 percent of its energy even before the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

from Breakingviews:

Kuroda does what he can for BOJ’s inflation goal

By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Bank of Japan’s new chief has dumped his predecessor’s timid script. Haruhiko Kuroda has crafted an ambitious new plan to end the country’s chronic deflation.

from Global Investing:

European banks: slow progress

The Cypriot crisis, stemming essentially from a banking malaise, reminds us that Europe's banking woes are far from over. In fact, Stephen Jen and Alexandra Dreisin at SLJ Macro Partners posit in a note on Monday that five years into the crisis, European banks have barely carried out any deleveraging. A look at their loan-to-deposit ratios  (a measure of a bank's liquidity, calculated by dividing total outstanding loans by total deposits) remain at an elevated 1.15. That's 60 percent higher than U.S. banks which went into the crisis with a similar LTD ratio but which have since slashed it to 0.7.

It follows therefore that if bank deleveraging really gets underway in Europe, lending will be curtailed further, notwithstanding central bankers' easing efforts. So the economic recession is likely to be prolonged further. Jen and Dreisin write:

from Global Investing:

After disappointing start to 2013, how will hedge funds catch up?

Despite the early-year rally in equity markets, some hedge funds seem to have had a disappointing start... yet again.

JP Morgan notes that the industry's benchmark HFRI index was up 2.8% by end-February,  well below the 4.6% for MSCI All-Country index.

from Breakingviews:

Abenomics can clear Japan’s demographic hurdle

By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Japan has a serious demographic disadvantage: its population is both shrinking and ageing. But the situation is not so dismal - at least not yet - that it will wreck Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to revive the economy.

from Global Investing:

Abenomics rally: bubble or trend?

"Abenomics" is the buzzword in Japan these days -- it refers to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive reflationary fiscal and monetary policies that triggered the yen's 10 percent decline against the dollar and 17 percent rally in Tokyo stocks this year.

So it's no wonder that the Japanese mutual fund market, the second largest in Asia-Pacific, enjoyed the largest monthly inflows in almost six years last month, raking in as much as $11 billion.

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